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State sues to stop liens by 'sovereign' couple

SANFORD - Donna and Joel Brinkle used to own 5 acres in Geneva. That's where they raised their family. Joel worked as a manager at Florida Power & Light Co. Donna is a former deputy court clerk.

Then, in the 1990s, they stopped paying taxes and declared themselves independent of all government authority. They have been battling government ever since.

Joel, 76, went to jail. The IRS went after their money, and Seminole County sold their home because of unpaid taxes.

Now, they face a new battle: Florida's attorney general is suing them, accusing them of fraud and harassment for filing a lien naming four Seminole County officials: Sheriff Don Eslinger; State Attorney Norm Wolfinger; Clerk of Courts Maryanne Morse; and Clayton Simmons, chief judge of the 18th judicial circuit.

The couple recorded the lien in April, claiming ownership of every piece of property held by those officials.

The suit asks a judge to throw out the claim and to ban the Brinkles from filing any more liens against public officials, unless it is done by an attorney or with a court order. It also asks a judge to bar the state and the county from accepting any more liens from the couple unless they are done by an attorney or with a court order.

Dozens of liens in 6 years

All told, the Brinkles have filed more than two dozen liens in the past six years, according to government records.

They name many people, including former President Clinton, a Sanford lawyer who sued the Brinkles in a land dispute, a Longwood company that towed their vehicle and a deputy court clerk who insisted that the Brinkles pay the standard fee to record a document.

They file those liens, Donna Brinkle said, to fight back against people who have done them wrong.

"They try to persecute my husband and myself to keep us from living a normal and peaceable life when we do absolutely nothing to harm another soul," she said.

Liens allow creditors a way to collect money they're owed.

Here is how they work:

A carpenter builds a house, but if the owner doesn't pay, the builder can then record a lien in county land records. If the owner tries to sell the house, he can't until the lien-holder is paid.

The attorney general's suit, filed only on behalf of Judge Simmons, says he owes the couple nothing. The Brinkles filed it, according to the suit, to harass him and to try to wreck his credit.

Simmons discovered the lien when he tried to refinance some property, he said.

He does not remember the Brinkles, he said, but a month before they recorded the lien, Joel Brinkle appeared before him, accused of driving without a license.

Simmons reviewed the evidence and concluded there was probable cause for the arrest.

Law unto themselves

There's a law against creating a fraudulent document, but the Brinkles contend they have committed no crime. They have not been arrested in connection with the liens, and they have not been prosecuted for failing to pay taxes.

That's the way it should be, said Donna Brinkle, 72, because the government has no authority over them.

"We put ourselves outside the jurisdiction of the state," she said.

But Joel Brinkle keeps getting arrested for driving without a license. So far, it has happened three times. He doesn't need a license, he said, because, just like his wife, he has proclaimed himself a sovereign nation.

In 1998, he went to jail for seven months for contempt of court when he refused repeatedly to answer a judge's questions, according to court records.

"That's all I told the judge, I would not participate in my own prosecution," Joel Brinkle said.

When the Brinkles declared their tax independence, they owned those 5 acres in Geneva.

Now they rent an apartment in a low-income section of Sanford. They have central air conditioning and heat but can't afford to run it. When Donna needed dental work, the couple's church and one of their adult sons paid for it, Donna Brinkle said.

They scrape by on $1,300 in monthly Social Security benefits, she said.

Designs on $700,000 house

Yet, in February the Brinkles tried to buy a $700,000 house in Alaqua, a prestigious gated community in Seminole County, from Hunter Paschall, a Longwood property investor.

Instead of money, however, they presented him with a homemade money order.

Although the deal fell apart, the Brinkles recorded the sale had been done, county land records show.

According to Donna Brinkle, that money order was perfectly valid. As head of her own sovereign country, she has the power to create her own monetary system, and she did.

A judge disagreed, ruling that Paschell was the rightful owner.

The Brinkles filed liens against him, his wife and his company.

Donna Brinkle said she has not given up on taking ownership of the Alaqua house, just as she has not given up on reclaiming her 5 acres in Geneva.

"It's still mine. It's still my and my husband's," she said. "All we lack is someone with a bigger stick than they have in Seminole County."


21,554 Posts

They have a few loose screws...

So, do they vote? If so, they are awful hypocritical. Also, why the hell is the government giving them $1300 a month in social security? If they want to claim their sovereignty, they should begin by refusing that and make some more of their fake money. :lol:

They actually kind of remind me of some of my old neighbors that were crazy...

15,559 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Well, a while back, there was the Republic of Texas guys here that did the same thing. They claimed Texas wasn't put into the USA correctly, and was in fact a sovereign state (country). They claimed that licenses and other things did not apply to them, and they files leans all over the place too.

Most of them are in prison now.
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